Click the link to go to my interview for MysticMag website, Sept 2022.
It was a beautiful, clear and relatively calm Wednesday morning in mid February earlier this year, as I walked along the beach near Playa Negra, about an hour’s drive south of Tamarindo, Guanacaste province, Costa Rica. My intention was to try and meet the owner of the local hotel, to introduce myself, explain what I do and offer my shamanic services to him and his guests.
The tide was out and the exposed expanse of flat sand made for easy walking. As I progressed along the beach, the ocean to my left, I glanced out to sea and saw a man, heavy set and maybe in his sixties, wading out into the surf. A wave hit him, not a huge one, but powerful nonetheless, and I thought to myself , “Wow that was a big hit.” I looked back after the wave dissipated and realised I couldn’t see him any more.
Fear and adrenaline began to rush through me, and then I saw the shape of someone floating upside down in the water. I dropped my small backpack, saying “no no no” over and over, in disbelief and shock at what I had just witnessed. I had to do something, so I rushed out towards him shouting “HELP!”, louder than I have ever shouted before in my life. In seconds I was there, but he was face down in the water. I tried to haul him out of the sea but he was a big man and I was struggling.
At that moment another man arrived, answering my scream for help, and together we dragged the limp, heavy body out onto the beach. We laid him down and the other man (Chris) checked for a pulse, which was present. We asked the injured man if he could hear us and tried to reassure him, but he was unresponsive. Others had come to help and 911 was called. In moments, it seemed, two doctors, who were on vacation in the area, were on the scene and one of them, a man from France, took over, and began chest compressions. I explained what had happened, what I had seen and we continued to work on the body as instructed by the doctor. I stepped back to give space to the three or four people, who were carrying out the CPR in turns. This continued for some time, everyone working incredibly well together, no arguing over what to do, seemingly expert in their application. But it was to no avail. After thirty or forty minutes the doctor told everyone to stop.
My heart sank. This man was dead.
Something kicked in within me and I asked if those present wouldn’t mind if I carried out a ceremony to help send his soul or spirit on it’s journey. I heard an agreement from Chris so I grabbed the small rattle from my back pack and knelt before this man lying on the sand, his physical body lifeless. I said some words, along the lines of, “Thank you brother for the life you have lived, the joy and happiness you have given others, but today was your day to leave this world. We send you off with peace and love as best we can. Our thoughts are with you, your family and friends, those that you leave behind. Thank you to all those that helped today, we could not have done more. It was his time. So we send you off from this world. God’s speed brother.”, and I performed a soul release process that I have been taught, and finished with a chant which became almost a wail, as I tapped into and released some of the emotion of this tragedy.
It was over within a couple of minutes and I moved away, back from the body, knowing that I could not have given more.
For some reason I gazed up towards the palm fringed back of the beach, some fifty metres away, and as I did an eagle carrying a fish in it’s talons caught my sight. This is not a sight I have seen before with my own eyes. I was struck dumb as immediately I realised the significance of this. Eagle, in the teachings I have received, means flying with Great Spirit, and this was confirmation to me that what I had done was correct and appropriate, and that this man’s spirit was being taken away by Great Spirit or God. My tears flowed.
Playa Negra is rather remote, accessed only by dirt roads and far from the nearest hospital. The paramedics arrived about an hour and a half after the tragedy, by which time I had met the agent for the house the deceased man was staying at and a surf instructor who had been teaching him. I found out his name was John, from Oregon, USA, here in Costa Rica on his own.
I left the scene and walked back along the beach stopping at one point to release further and let the tears of shock and grief flow, knowing that I was meant to be witness to this tragedy, to be there to help as best I could and to send his soul on it’s journey as I have been taught. The rest of the day however was rather a blur of emotion. A lot of whys and what ifs came up which I tried my best to deal with.
The next morning I walked again on the beach and bumped into Chris (not a coincidence, I’m sure of that), who had rushed to help me the day before. It turns out he is an ex lifeguard from Ventura, California and told me that we could not have done more to help John. He said he had felt John’s neck and it was broken. It seems as though the wave had thrown him down onto the compacted, rock hard sand, head first. Chris also thanked me for my words and the brief ceremony. He said it really helped him.
About a week or so after the tragedy I spoke to John’s brother on the phone, shared what I saw and what happened. He was very grateful as that was the first detailed information he had been given. John had one brother and two sisters but no wife or children.
As seems to be my path now, I am very much aware of signs and lessons put my way, to help me on this often difficult and solitary shamanic journey I have signed up for. I knew, as this tragedy was unfolding, that there was a deeper meaning for me. Of course the sadness and grief of John’s family and friends at this terrible loss is rightly first and foremost, but on reflection, now five months later I feel I can share this story and the bigger picture that arose from the sad passing of a life from this world. I was helped as the tragedy unfolded, by an ex lifeguard and two doctors, amongst others, so the responsibility and necessity of me “doing the right thing” was taken out of my hands, and I met Chris the following day who confirmed that we could not have done more, alleviating any fears I may have had over my actions. Also I was able to give some closure to John’s family, who had been given very little information about what had happened.
I was there to witness, to take action, to help, and then to send his soul off and finally, I believe, to share this story.
Is death the end? Well maybe, just maybe, as the eagle symbolised as it flew skyward carrying it’s precious cargo, with the mortal body left behind, John’s soul had been taken elsewhere, perhaps borne away to it’s own little piece of heaven.
We have all been through difficult times and have people or issues in our past that may still be influencing us emotionally in some way today. Below is a process that can help address these emotions and clear any blockages allowing us to move on and be more authentic.
Begin by identifying the top three traumas or emotional situations you want to let go of and the people involved with them. By letting go I mean you transmute the emotions into energies that can be dissipated. You will always have the memory but the emotional charge with it should be eliminated or, at the very least, reduced considerably.
So let’s say you have three people or issues you want to work with.
Find something physical that represents the person/issue you are working with, ideally something from nature but it doesn’t have to be. Keep this item with you when you do the next stages below. You will be letting this object go too, so make sure you are ok with that.
This step comes from a Hawaiian process called Ho’opono pono.
Firstly find a safe and private space to “work” in (I call any spiritual/emotional healing and releasing, work). Make sure you will not be interrupted. You can do this anywhere but ideally you should be sat at a table, preferably wooden.
Imagine and feel the person sat opposite you. If it is an issue and not a person, visualise the issue or yourself as you were during the issue, sat opposite.
Say to them (out loud or in your head),
Please forgive me.
I love you”
Do this slowly, concentrating upon and feeling each sentence.
“I’m sorry” – Feel this. Feel repentance even if you know you were not at fault. Take responsibility for what happened. Somewhere guilt sits between you and the other person. Maybe you are clearing for both of you. If it is a situation let the remorse take over you. Really feel this. Let tears, sobbing flow. Even curl up on the floor in the foetal position if that’s where the pain sends you. I’ve been there. This is your time to release. Do whatever it takes to let it out from your body. Often tapping the throat, heart or belly will help the release.
“Please forgive me”. This is humility. Again even if you are convinced it was not your fault, take responsibility. Take the higher ground. And again most definitely feel this. Forgiveness clears the past. You are also forgiving yourself. Spiritually we a children. We are allowed and meant to make mistakes, they help us grow.
“Thank you”. Be in deep gratitude. For the person, for the situation that has helped you grow, for the process, for being you, for being able to take this step, for the help the universe has provided you to get you to where you are today.
“I love you”. Say this to the person or the issue and send as much love as you can out into the universe. But also realise that by saying this you are saying you love yourself too. Accept this love for yourself, you deserve it. Nothing is more powerful than love.
It may also be helpful if you can “see” the other person and notice how they react (in your mind) when you say and feel each of the above sentences.
When you are finished blow any residue emotions, feelings or energies into the object, rub it on your body, if that feels right, to draw out any further negativity and find somewhere to throw it away, even if it just in the dustbin.
Do this for each of the people/issues you want to release energetically.
When you feel you have finished spend some time in gratitude for what you have just accomplished and if you feel drained or tired, breathe in life force and love energy, imagining yourself filling up with a life affirming, nurturing, wonderful colour or light.
Make sure you feel grounded again before carrying on with your day.
My friend John (1967-2017)
Last year I decided to go to India and John kindly offered to put me up whilst I planned the trip, as I had recently moved out of my home in Billericay. It took about three weeks to organise the visa, tickets, vaccinations, etc and it was during this time that I met John’s sister, Teresa, and her grown up children, Daniel and Matilda. Teresa had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was back in the UK, from her home in Sweden, to sort out some of her affairs. A difficult time for everyone, but John put on a brave face and tried to be bright and bubbly, however the underlying stress was apparent.
As I spent time with John he shared more of his worries and concerns that were depriving him of sleep. Not only his sister’s illness but work and relationship troubles. He had left his job at the family farm and was trying to take stock of his life and find new direction. He even applied for a builders merchant manager’s job, for which he was way overqualified, but was unsuccessful.
He had split with his partner, Sue, some time ago but still regularly saw his two girls, Isabella and Ayesha. John’s house had three rooms that were devoted to the girls, adorned with pop band posters, cuddly toys and the like. Wardrobes and drawers were crammed with their clothes, as they stayed over two, three or more nights a week. In the three weeks staying with John I got to know his daughters a little and saw how he absolutely doted upon them. They wanted for nothing. Both the girls, although quite different in character, came across as intelligent, well mannered and considerate. They could even take themselves off to bed without a fuss. As young teenagers (almost), that was impressive.
At the end of November 2016, with a six month visa and no real plan in mind, I left for India. Some healthy food and exercise, walking and yoga, were as far as my intention went.
I swapped whatsapp messages with John and sent the odd photo of my travels but then, in early January 2017, he sent a message saying he had been diagnosed with cancer.
The shock I felt must have been nothing compared to that felt by John and his family. From then on I was in regular contact with both John and another close friend, Kevin, who kept me abreast of the situation. Speaking with John on the phone, I was surprised to hear how upbeat he was but understandably that didn’t last. As his situation worsened he became more accepting and reflective.
During one of the many email exchanges we had, John replied with the below after I had written about some of my spiritual thoughts and beliefs:
That was a very thoughtful message.
Believe it or not I don’t think what you have suggested is something I don’t believe in.
As I said to you, my body has been out of alignment with its natural state for years. Essentially I realised that I m not a hard nosed businessman in pursuit of untold riches. I pursued a life that never suited my personality. I m not a greedy and selfish person deep down. I now believe following this path has led to my illness.
The stress this has brought has caused me untold damage.
I think you knew I wasn’t well when you were here. I was quite sure there was something wrong hence my visits to doctors. It was a virus that triggered the cancer off over Christmas. It was almost like it was waiting to be kick started. If you remember I told you I couldn’t breath in the pool in Sweden while at my sister.
Stupidly I didn’t push the doctors for a simple X ray and just listened to them saying there was nothing wrong.
I guess now I’m facing the daunting task of operations, chemo and radiation treatments. Basically, a sledge hammer to open a walnut.
I do now need a deep healing within my body to withstand this onslaught. I’m looking at ways to meditate and find peace with myself.
As you can imagine, I have just told my children the news and the devastation I feel inside is a pain I cannot explain. My head at night is in turmoil. Sleep, as you well know, is now a precious commodity.
All my dreams, hopes and plans are distant memories. We talked about riding across America on a Harley, finishing my flying course etc. Now I face the fear and emptiness of this long dark road. Time suddenly feels like it has stood still while I watch everyone move forward past me.
It’s almost like you have stepped into God’s waiting room.
To make things worse I had to break news to my sister who is dying that I cannot give her stem cells to fight her disease. We both get cancer within months of each other. I was already suffering her burden in my mind and now she is staying looking after me!
If you believe in fate then I left work 5 months ago and maybe something has given me this time to reflect before I face this trial.
I just hope I can face this with dignity and not let my daughters suffer watching me waste away. I hope you find that peace and end the pain of the Tinnitus. I can assure you my sister and I knew you were going through hell with it. Again unless you live it for a day you cannot understand the torment.
I want you to have a good life and find a woman to share life with. At times like these you realise only love, friendship and happiness really matter.
Enjoy your trip and hopefully I’ll still be around when you come back.
The girls are here and they said hello as does Teresa.”
I held a couple of shamanic ceremonies for him on the beach and upon a cliff top, where I was staying in India. They seemed to make sense to me and I got confirmation back from the universe that I was on the right track in the form of acknowledgment sounds and sights. A local man asking for a photo with me just as i finished the small ceremony on the beach (I had been discreet and he had not seen me conduct it), a bell being rung when I completed the cliff top work with a multitude of eagles.
During this period I spent a week in the city of Trivandrum in Kerala, southern India where, as serendipity would have it , Amma “The Hugging Mother” was holding an event. I went along and took a sacred stone that I was using in the work I was doing with and for John, said prayers for him, and left it in the temple. Again this felt right.
However after a few weeks working shamanically it felt as though I could do no more where I was and, as I had been thinking about flying back to the UK to be with my friend, I booked a ticket back.
I returned early February and stayed at John’s house. Teresa was there nursing him as best she could and many other family members and friends came to help and offer their support. But John had deteriorated rapidly. I worked with John using my teachings and was there to help out as necessary, even if it that only meant making cups of tea for the many visitors. My ideal, of course, was to be able to help him battle the disease and cure himself, but that seemed out of the question now as destiny had other plans.
The decision was made to move John to a hospice and I agreed to spend the first night with him, so that he was not alone in a strange place, and Teresa could try and get some rest, as she had been in constant attendance since coming over from Sweden.
As night fell the hospice became quiet and all I could hear was the sound of the oxygen machine, rhythmically pumping out life to a slow morbid beat. I lay awake on the bed in John’s room as he drifted in and out of a medicated consciousness in the chair just round the corner. I may have grabbed some sleep but mainly I lay and meditated and prayed. I did some more work with John, again hoping in some way it will help him, at least to try and overcome any fear of death but there was little, if any, energy left in him.
Around noon the next day Teresa returned with her dad and brother, so I left, saying my heartfelt goodbyes to John, in case I didn’t see him again and returned to his empty house in Southend.
I did more shamanic work that night and realised I needed to do some anger releasing work with him when I returned to the hospice the following day. I have a piece of broken mirrored haematite in my mesa, or medicine bundle, that represents anger which I use with clients. This healing was confirmed when I noticed another smaller piece of haematite stone under John’s empty massage chair, a stone given to him by another friend, who had offered his spiritual support.
The next day I packed my mesa and shamanic “tools” into my backpack and made my way to the hospice.
But John had passed earlier in the morning.
When I arrived I tried to support the family in their grief as best I could without being intrusive. Whilst sitting talking with his Teresa, I offered to conduct a shamanic style soul release ceremony for John, to send his spirit off to wherever it goes next, even though I had never done one before, I’d only ever been taught it. I told his sister this but she asked me to do it anyway. So I did. His whole family came into the room where John was laid out and I carried out the ceremony.
Teresa and other family members thanked me afterwards and said how beautiful it was.
Sometime later I walked along the beach near the hospice and had the small piece of mirror like haematite in my hand. I knew I had to release it into the sea and was drawn to a monument, an obelisk about thirty metres out from the shore, but reachable due to the low tide. I think it is a World War II monument but I’m not entirely sure, however I knew the stone had to be placed there, for the tide to come in and wash away. It was also within sight of the hospice so the connection was strong. As I walked out on this wonderfully becalmed day, I looked down to see a small toy mirrored heart lying there on the stoney foreshore. I knew that this was to come with the stone and I placed both of them on the side of the obelix, said goodbye to John in spirit again and left feeling somewhat lighter amidst such a tragedy.
Farewell my friend. Safe travels wherever you are.
It didn’t go unnoticed to me that the place where I received most of my shamanic training was almost directly opposite the hospice in Westcliff and my dad’s wife, Margaret, also volunteers at the same hospice. Yet more synchronicities confirming to me a connection to something bigger.
Trevor Cowan April 2017.
The below was written a few years ago but it feels ok to share it now. To set it up, my mum passed in 1998 after a car accident in the UK. This was obviously a big traumatic event in my life, as well as in my dad’s, sister’s, rest of the family, friends and the others involved directly or as witnesses to the accident. The first part of my medicine wheel training delt with the past and traumatic events. So this, unsurprisingly, was number one on my list to work upon. Part of the shamanic process is to use a stone to represent the trauma. I won’t go into details as to how that happens as it is part of the training, however, suffice it to say that the stone became part of my mesa or medicine bundle and was used in healings with others. Then a couple of years later I knew the stone and my work with the trauma was moving on….
Sunday 29th Sept 2013 – The scene of the accident
I had planned it to happen today and made sure I did not forget by putting the mesa trauma stone in my pocket.
Having spent the weekend with friends who live just outside Ipswich, I was returning home on the A12, just as mum and dad had been doing after visiting their friends, John and Marion in August 1998. I’d passed the accident spot many times, where a car had taken off from the oncoming carriageway and collided with mum and dad’s car head on, resulting in mum passing and dad being badly injured, and I hd stopped in the same layby near the scene a few times to grieve and release but this time was different.
The mesa stone that had been with me since the South training on the medicine wheel was ready to leave. It had made this known a couple of times recently, by falling out or jumping out of my mesa medicine bundle. The stone, multi coloured rainbow jasper, had served me well as the ”trauma” stone, representing the car crash, the way it’s colours mingled with each other and it’s use had helped me deal with the tragedy. However it was time to give it back to mother earth and see what final work it had to offer.
I came towards the Witham Bypass and the parking area and, as is often the case, the musical accompaniment was a wonderful gift acknowledging that “they” were there. The song playing as I pulled in was Heatwave’s 80’s soul classic “Mind Blowing Decisions” which has the line “mind blowing decisions causes head on collisions”. I can’t think of any other song that has “head on collisions” in the lyrics? How prophetic, apt and magical that it is playing as I arrived at the layby. I am so used to this kind of coincidence, synchronicity, spirit message, call it what you will, that I wasn’t phased by it at all. I had work to do, I knew that. This was only confirmation that the universe was working with me and maybe God or Spirit were close.
I turned the car stereo off and sat holding the stone in one hand and my mastery stone, received only a couple of weeks ago after completing the Masters Shamanic course with my Shamanic teacher Skie Hummingbird, in the other hand, and closed my eyes. I allowed my thoughts to flow and put my face into a wailing/keening pose to aid the release until it happened naturally. Images of the car wreckage, mum in dad’s arms, a last embrace and thoughts for the others involved in the accident, including the driver of the other vehicle, his wife and children on the back seat, all of whom were not seriously hurt, but have grown up with the accident in their consciousness. My thoughts even turned to those that had witnessed it or helped, they too have it embedded in their psyche. I energetically unwound mum’s chakras or body energy centres and felt her across my lap as dad had. I felt a group of shaman and tribesfolk swaying and slowly moving forward in lines either side of mum who was laid out in the centre similar to how I saw her at the hospital when I identified her body. Images came and went, emotions surfaced and tears flowed.
When it was over I left the car and walked to the embankment at the side of the layby overlooking a freshly ploughed field and startled a rabbit from its resting spot down a tunnel in the undergrowth. Am I going further down the metaphoric rabbit hole? Ploughed fields have always reminded me of my pledge to the shamanic path when I took a step forward next to a ploughed field, directly after coming out of three days of darkness at the Sacred Trust Darkness Visible retreat in Dorset a few years back.
I sat on the bank facing south, out of view of the road and looking over the field. Two crows took off in front of me as I called in the directions, N, E, S, W, Mother Earth and Father Sky and more tears. I looked down to the ground between my feet to find a spot to bury the stone and there I noticed a piece of rusted metal poking out from the earth. I pulled on it quite firmly to shift it and it came away from the entangled grass and dried mud. Could this be a part of the wreckage from the crash over 15 years ago? As coincidences go this would be a doozy. One to tell the grandkids! Looking closer at the fragment I saw some old paint and yes it was of the same colour as mum and dad’s car, a brown/grey Toyota Corolla. Maybe it is that car, maybe it isn’t. It doesn’t matter. It represents the crash to me and so I added a dab of my blood from a graze on my finger I got a little while before onto the metal and placed the stone under it, to be left here to rest as now it’s job with myself and mum is over.
I spent some time afterwards picking up rubbish that was dotted around the place and got back in my car and drove off feeling quite blessed. When I turned the stereo on again the next tune was “Yah Mo B There” by James Ingram and Michael MacDonald with the lyric “Heavenly father…just reach out and call his name”. Yah Mo B There is a derivation from Hebrew and supposedly translates roughly as “God be with you”
I like the way the colours match, another synchronicity.
Life would mean very little without beats, without a rhythm to dance to, a pulse to keep us on track or even to denote the cycles of our lives, from day to night, the phases of the moon and the changing of the seasons as our planet keeps its regular orbit around our star.
Beats and rhythms are everywhere. Starting within the womb, surrounded by fluid and in darkness, the mother’s heartbeat is the soundtrack to the first nine months of our lives. This rhythmic sound is so comforting and familiar that it is used by new parents to help their little one(s) sleep as can be seen by the number of womb noise Youtube posts.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tycKhXaYw8Q)
Our heart beat is also a valued ally throughout the rest of our life, letting us know when we are scared or startled by wanting to jump out of our chest, pumping hard to prepare us for fight or flight, becoming a calming focus for our mind when drifting into meditation, fluttering when we meet someone we love, seemingly stopping or breaking when we have to let them go. We hear it’s beats in our ears when we physically exert ourselves too much, telling us to slow down and then finally, of course, when the beat stops our time is up.
So look after your heart as best you can and be wary about putting it solely in another’s hands. It is your responsibility, your driving force and your connection to the rhythm of life.
Much love, Trevor.
I have always trusted science and the proofs and truths it has afforded me through my education. However through my spiritual work I now understand that science does not explain everything. In time it’s envelope will increase to encompass what is currently unclear, such as the quantum world, the human brain, consciousness, black holes, dark matter, etc, and maybe even some spiritual techniques, but it will always be a subset of what humanity (or some of humanity) already know, and this in turn is just a part of “what is” or how things are (see below pdf). Gravity for example was never discovered. It has always been there doing it’s thing. Perhaps other forces are there too, just waiting to be detected, measured and recognised by science. Maybe some of them can be felt and used by people in healing. Maybe there have always been people who have used these forces or energies to help others. Shaman think so.